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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

First Newsletter

My concerns from observation of the children in the information they are bringing to school for their research topics is that they are only using Google as their search tool. For most of this term we have had to rely on the children finding their own information for topics because the library has very limited resources and our computer lab is in the stages of being moved and the room refurbished. This should be complete this week so we can start to get classes into the lab again.

The current set up is that the children work with a staff member who is released from regular class work for one day per week, while a relief teacher comes in to take his class. The work in the computer lab is related in some way to the work that is being done in the classroom. I am not sure at this stage whether it is part of Non Contact Time or whether the class teacher is involved at the same time. Next term we have decided that I will change my teaching day so that I will have access to the lab with the classes I take. My emphasis will be in online searching techniques, using digital formats for notemaking and eventually to presentation techniques in a digital format. I know it will be a case of hasten slowly, as most of this is new to the students and the staff.

I know there will be set up problems with the lab as a curriculum server is still not in place, although we had news last week that there was an initiative from our education provider to upgrade the facilities in small schools to provide such items. We are not sure when it will happen though.  The computers still run XP Home edition and there are a lot of inconsistencies in the set up of each computer. Managing this group of virtually stand alone computers is time consuming, but it has not been my job so far. I hope we can resolve this by the end of the year.

Here is the item I wrote for the first newsletter. Most of the parents have already met me on parade and some have dropped by the library, so I did not go overboard with the introduction.

I am new to the school this year, and so far have spent a lot of time in putting the library back into shape after the holiday move. While space in the library is small, and the book resources limited and we are still getting our network of computers fully functioning the children are relying on finding information from sources outside the school. Some classes have been given internet sites to guide them to information, and I am also suggesting these as general sites to help.

Some online sources for finding information that do not involve using Google.
The Local Shire Council offers to its users its online databases.
Go to the Local Shire Council website at http://www.xxx.gov.au/ (name of council and URL not published) and go to the Leisure and Lifestyle section. Then follow the links to Library services and online databases. You will need the number on your library membership card to access these databases. Of particular interest to your children for doing research will be the Britannica Encyclopedias and there is a Junior version available for the younger students. E-books are also available using the Tumblebooks link.

Another website of use is KidsClick! A directory organised by librarians. It is available at  http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/KidsClick!/

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, but the information is not geared to the reading levels of our students. It is useful if used with parental help. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Although these sites are United States based, the general information they provide is useful most of the timeā€¦..and they are kid safe places on the internet.

Ms A. Teacher-librarian


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